Interview with Karen Bradley, CEO of Front Range Snacks

Karen is the President and CEO of Front Range Snacks, the parent corporation of the Open Road Snacks family of brands. She has spent more than 25 years in marketing and graphic design, including the creation of a profitable graphic design/marketing agency in New York. Karen left New York to pursue her outdoor passions in Colorado’s famously sunny climate. When she’s not in the office or out finding new better-for-you snacks to bring into the Open Road family,you’ll find Karen on her road bike or on skis.

Sarah Velasco: How did Open Road Snacks get started?
Karen Bradley: There was a time when finding a great-tasting, “better-for-you” snack was difficult. That time is long gone. Since rising from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in the 1980s, Rocky Mountain Popcorn® has grown from a respected and popular local snack option to a national crunchy craze.
In 2007, Rocky Mountain Popcorn was born. And, in 2013, we evolved into Open Road Snacks™ as the brand turned its focus toward pioneering the concept of healthy snacking. But the natural, whole-grain roots remained the same, and as sales grew 12-fold, the simple principle of small batch, convenient, delicious and healthy snacking expanded into other brands. Two years ago, we launched our innovative crunchy corn snack Poplets®, a healthy new twist on an old favorite. Now in more than 30,000 travel and convenience stores across the country, including smallgrocery, specialty and club, Open Road Snacks™ is a national leader of great-tasting, small-batch craft snacks. Better for you never tasted so good.

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us a little bit about how Open Road Snacks protects the planet?

Karen Bradley: Open Road’s Snacks production facilities are 100% wind powered, as a result, last year alone we:
  • Saved enough electricity for 200,000 homes/year 
  • 89,000 gallons of gasoline 
  • 4,600 gallons of oil 
  • We are also part of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative 
  • Saved 3,298 mature trees 
  • Waste reduction saved landfill covering 6 soccer fields 
  • Our everyday popcorn caddys and master cases are made with recyclable paperboard packaging.
  • And of course, we reduce, reuse and recycle in our sales and marketing office.

Sarah Velasco: What kinds products do you carry?
Karen Bradley: We manufacture and distribute craft snacks with a small-batch taste, on a go-anywhere scale. The 3 product lines that we currently produce are :
Rocky Mountain Popcorn - a prominent brand in convenience and travel centers nationwide. All 5 RMP items outperform all popcorn competitor items in sales velocity. It is the fastest moving popcorn brand (according to IRI data weeks ending 10/24/13). And only RMP has the bold flavors, the vast array of varieties, the quality ingredients and tremendous customer convenience that are worthy of the Rocky Mountain name. It’s HUGE.
POPLETS - Rediscover corn nut snacks with POPLETS… the LITTLE CRUNCH with BIG FLAVOR. Poplets, the newest innovation and addition to ORS, are a twist on the legacy corn nut. Poplets are satisfying little nuggets of corn kernel goodness. They have a delightful and delicious crunch that is 7x softer than corn nuts, and because they contain far less fat and more fiber, yet BIG taste, are proving to be a big hit with c-store customers.
And Diego’s Chips - Meet Diego’s Chips: the bold, hot and spicy chip that’s positively brimming with the authentic flavors of the Southwest. HOT is HOT!! With popular ethnic favorites of Habanero and Red Chile flavors, Diego’s Chips are a must-have addition to every convenience chip set. Hot enough to make your taste buds represent—with a fiery spice blend that redefines the borders of great taste. Caution: their contents are hot AND flavorful!

Sarah Velasco: How are they different from other ones on the market?

Karen Bradley: Simply put….TASTE; Open Road Snacks takes great pride in creating snacks that are “craft snacks”: high quality, all natural and the best tasting competitive snacks in the market. For most products, Open Road Snacks items are considered “Better For You” without sacrificing flavor. All of our products are all natural, gluten free and nut free and use non-gmo corn kernels.

Sarah Velasco: Do you have any gluten-free products?
Karen Bradley: All of our products are all natural, gluten free and nut free and use non-gmo corn kernels.

Sarah Velasco: For readers that have never tried these, what three products would you recommend for them to first try?
Karen Bradley: That’s a tough question, they are all delicious. Sea Salt &Butter Poplets, Jalapeno Popcorn, and our Diego’s Habanero Chips

Sarah Velasco: Where can readers find these products?
Karen Bradley: Past marketing strategy has put an emphasis on smaller packaging and the convenience and drug channel: AM/PM, Chevron, Circle K, Pilot, Sunoco, Hess, Walgreens. Current change in marketing strategy is to expand into larger packaging and larger format stores. Currently available at King Soopers/Kroger in the Denver area. And of course direct from our website and Amazon.com